Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:44 am
 

National notes

My Heisman ballot:

1. Tim Tebow
2. Sam Bradford
3. Colt McCoy

I can't give you a quantitative reason why Tebow is my No. 1. His numbers are down from '07. However, after watching him lead that fourth-quarter comeback against Alabama, it's more of a feel, an emotional reaction.

I go back to Sept. 27 when Tebow basically called his shot after the Ole Miss loss and then delivered! Nine wins in a row. Go back and at the quotes from that day. Tebow as Babe Ruth pointing his bad toward the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Until Saturday, Bradford was my guy. I had started hyping him for Heisman back when he was a freshman. How many players ever have led the country in pass efficiency two years in a row?

It's hard to vote Colt McCoy third when he took a team with a mediocre offensive line and led it in passing and rushing. The point is, I can't slide a piece of paper between the three of them.

The voters: John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Tony Barnhart, CBS; Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News; Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union; Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle; Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times; Anthony Gimino, Tucson Citizen; Herb Gould, Chicago-Sun Times; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune; Mike Griffith, Knoxville New Sentinel; Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Matt Hayes, Sporting News; Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register; Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Mark Janssen, Manhattan Mercury; Todd Jones, Columbus Dispatch; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Ted Lewis, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Mike Lopresti, Gannett Newspapers; Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger; Ray Melick, Birmingham News; Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News; Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune.

(Two voters did not want their names used)

The rest of the national awards, etc.


MVP: McCoy

There's a difference between the Heisman winner and MVP. McCoy did more with less. Texas wouldn't be in the conversation without him.

Best quarterback: Bradford

This is getting confusing so let's just drop it.

Best running back: Shonn Greene, Iowa

The nation's No. 2 rusher came on in the second half of the season to surpass Michigan State's Javon Ringer and UConn's Donald Brown as the most consistent ground force in the nation.

Best receiver: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech


Do back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards do anything for you? An NFL star in waiting.


Best tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

This was tough. I recently shifted away from Missouri's Chase Coffman who was too injured at the end of the season to back up a spectacular first eight games of the season.

The 6-foot-6 inch Gresham gets opens, is hard to tackle and has speed. Need anything else?

Best offensive lineman: Andre Smith, Alabama.

He is what coaches look for when they recruit left tackles. A case can be made for Smith, the likely Outland Trophy winner, being Bama's MVP. Without him protecting John Parker Wilson and carving out holes for Glen Coffee, the Tide don't start 12-0.

Defensive player of the year: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

From a troubled beginning, this voracious tackler became the foundation for one of the best statistical defenses in history.

Best defensive lineman: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

Ask BYU's Max Hall what he thinks of the nation's sacks leader In their October matchup, Hughes sacked Hall three times.

Best defensive back: Eric Berry, Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin should be at Berry's house right now making sure he's happy, comfortable and ready to take 20 snaps a game on offense.

Best special teams player: Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati

You won't find many other All-Americans on the best Cincinnati team in history that won 11 games and the Big East. We'll give it to Huber who bombed 20 punts more than 50 yards and dropped 20 punts inside the 20.

Remember when Cincinnati used to be a basketball school?

Freshman of the year: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

How did he get from Texas to Corvallis?

Coach of the year: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Staff of the year: Penn State

The Broyles Award is doing a disservice to Penn State. The honor goes to the assistant coach of the year. Not only were there no Penn State assistants among the finalists, the Broyles folks didn't do the right thing and pick the entire Penn State staff.

With JoePa ailing, his staff basically took over and led the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title. Big ups to defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno. They were the glue.

Biggest disappointments: Georgia, Notre Dame, South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, the ACC, the Pac-10.

Biggest surprises: Oregon State, Ball State, Alabama, Buffalo, East Carolina, Rice, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech.

Sometimes you just live right: Charlie Weis almost got run out of town after a 6-6 season. His reward? A trip to the Hawaii where he can continue to recruit linebacker Manti Te'o. 

Don't give me any of this stuff about a dead period. Te'o will be a captive audience as the Irish take over Oahu.

Best games: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35, Oct. 11 in Dallas.

The winner usually wins the Big 12 South and competes for the national championship. Right? Right?

Texas Tech 39, Texas 33, Nov. 1 in Lubbock.

Not to pick on the Horns here but the reason they are playing Ohio State instead of Florida is Crabtree's game-winning catch with one second left.

UCLA 27, Tennessee 24 (OT) Sept. 1 in the Rose Bowl.

Tennessee's defense held UCLA's Kevin Craft to only four interceptions in the first half. Then, in his best performance of a long, long season, Craft rallied the Bruins in the second half.

Rick Neuheisel led a post-game pep rally.

Florida 31, Alabama 20, Dec. 6 at the SEC championship game.

The BCS was smiling as the closest thing to a national semifinal was played out in front of the largest Georgia Dome crowd in history.

Whine of the year: Pete Carroll and USC

You lost to a team you weren't supposed to (Oregon State). You paid for it in the polls. Deal with it. Maybe the difference between that and Florida losing to Ole Miss? Urban Meyer has made a habit lately of winning the big ones <em>and</em> the little ones.

Best stories:

Six teams ranked No. 1 during the season (the most since 1984)

Alabama arriving a year early (at least) under Nick Saban

Utah, TCU and BYU making a huge statement by the Mountain West: The BCS doesn't belong to the six power conferences.

Notre Dame's collapse from 4-1 and Weis barely hanging on for another year.

Oregon State beating USC and chasing its first Rose Bowl in 44 years.

Coaches in waiting.

Coaches waiting in line ("resigning" in the middle of a season).

The end of a Bowden (Tommy).

The continuation of a Bowden (Bobby).

The longing of a Bowden (Terry, to get back in the game).

Joe's hip.

Charlie's knee.

Nate Davis' gloves.

Jay Jacobs' "shock" over Tommy Tuberville's "resignation."

Tennessee goes from old school to youngest coach in the country.

The (sad) state of Washington. (Combined records of the Huskies and Cougars, 2-22).

Big 12 quarterbacks.

Big 12 offenses.

Big 12 top 10 games each week.

The Big 12 surpassing the SEC, if only for a moment, as the best conference in the country.

The tie in the Big 12 South.

The cry that followed.

Politcking.

Text messages.

The high road.

Running it up.

Calling off the dogs. 

Flyovers.

"To me that's a little ridiculous," Bradford said.

That's a good way to end it, for now.

 

 

Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:44 am
 

National notes

My Heisman ballot:

1. Tim Tebow
2. Sam Bradford
3. Colt McCoy

I can't give you a quantitative reason why Tebow is my No. 1. His numbers are down from '07. However, after watching him lead that fourth-quarter comeback against Alabama, it's more of a feel, an emotional reaction.

I go back to Sept. 27 when Tebow basically called his shot after the Ole Miss loss and then delivered! Nine wins in a row. Go back and at the quotes from that day. Tebow as Babe Ruth pointing his bad toward the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Until Saturday, Bradford was my guy. I had started hyping him for Heisman back when he was a freshman. How many players ever have led the country in pass efficiency two years in a row?

It's hard to vote Colt McCoy third when he took a team with a mediocre offensive line and led it in passing and rushing. The point is, I can't slide a piece of paper between the three of them.

The voters: John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel; Tony Barnhart, CBS; Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News; Mike DeArmond, Kansas City Star; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Michael DiRocco, Florida Times-Union; Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle; Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times; Anthony Gimino, Tucson Citizen; Herb Gould, Chicago-Sun Times; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune; Mike Griffith, Knoxville New Sentinel; Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Matt Hayes, Sporting News; Tommy Hicks, Mobile Press-Register; Ron Higgins, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Mark Janssen, Manhattan Mercury; Todd Jones, Columbus Dispatch; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Ted Lewis, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Mike Lopresti, Gannett Newspapers; Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger; Ray Melick, Birmingham News; Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News; Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune.

(Two voters did not want their names used)

The rest of the national awards, etc.


MVP: McCoy

There's a difference between the Heisman winner and MVP. McCoy did more with less. Texas wouldn't be in the conversation without him.

Best quarterback: Bradford

This is getting confusing so let's just drop it.

Best running back: Shonn Greene, Iowa

The nation's No. 2 rusher came on in the second half of the season to surpass Michigan State's Javon Ringer and UConn's Donald Brown as the most consistent ground force in the nation.

Best receiver: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech


Do back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards do anything for you? An NFL star in waiting.


Best tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

This was tough. I recently shifted away from Missouri's Chase Coffman who was too injured at the end of the season to back up a spectacular first eight games of the season.

The 6-foot-6 inch Gresham gets opens, is hard to tackle and has speed. Need anything else?

Best offensive lineman: Andre Smith, Alabama.

He is what coaches look for when they recruit left tackles. A case can be made for Smith, the likely Outland Trophy winner, being Bama's MVP. Without him protecting John Parker Wilson and carving out holes for Glen Coffee, the Tide don't start 12-0.

Defensive player of the year: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

From a troubled beginning, this voracious tackler became the foundation for one of the best statistical defenses in history.

Best defensive lineman: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

Ask BYU's Max Hall what he thinks of the nation's sacks leader In their October matchup, Hughes sacked Hall three times.

Best defensive back: Eric Berry, Tennessee.

Lane Kiffin should be at Berry's house right now making sure he's happy, comfortable and ready to take 20 snaps a game on offense.

Best special teams player: Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati

You won't find many other All-Americans on the best Cincinnati team in history that won 11 games and the Big East. We'll give it to Huber who bombed 20 punts more than 50 yards and dropped 20 punts inside the 20.

Remember when Cincinnati used to be a basketball school?

Freshman of the year: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

How did he get from Texas to Corvallis?

Coach of the year: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Staff of the year: Penn State

The Broyles Award is doing a disservice to Penn State. The honor goes to the assistant coach of the year. Not only were there no Penn State assistants among the finalists, the Broyles folks didn't do the right thing and pick the entire Penn State staff.

With JoePa ailing, his staff basically took over and led the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title. Big ups to defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno. They were the glue.

Biggest disappointments: Georgia, Notre Dame, South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, the ACC, the Pac-10.

Biggest surprises: Oregon State, Ball State, Alabama, Buffalo, East Carolina, Rice, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech.

Sometimes you just live right: Charlie Weis almost got run out of town after a 6-6 season. His reward? A trip to the Hawaii where he can continue to recruit linebacker Manti Te'o. 

Don't give me any of this stuff about a dead period. Te'o will be a captive audience as the Irish take over Oahu.

Best games: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35, Oct. 11 in Dallas.

The winner usually wins the Big 12 South and competes for the national championship. Right? Right?

Texas Tech 39, Texas 33, Nov. 1 in Lubbock.

Not to pick on the Horns here but the reason they are playing Ohio State instead of Florida is Crabtree's game-winning catch with one second left.

UCLA 27, Tennessee 24 (OT) Sept. 1 in the Rose Bowl.

Tennessee's defense held UCLA's Kevin Craft to only four interceptions in the first half. Then, in his best performance of a long, long season, Craft rallied the Bruins in the second half.

Rick Neuheisel led a post-game pep rally.

Florida 31, Alabama 20, Dec. 6 at the SEC championship game.

The BCS was smiling as the closest thing to a national semifinal was played out in front of the largest Georgia Dome crowd in history.

Whine of the year: Pete Carroll and USC

You lost to a team you weren't supposed to (Oregon State). You paid for it in the polls. Deal with it. Maybe the difference between that and Florida losing to Ole Miss? Urban Meyer has made a habit lately of winning the big ones <em>and</em> the little ones.

Best stories:

Six teams ranked No. 1 during the season (the most since 1984)

Alabama arriving a year early (at least) under Nick Saban

Utah, TCU and BYU making a huge statement by the Mountain West: The BCS doesn't belong to the six power conferences.

Notre Dame's collapse from 4-1 and Weis barely hanging on for another year.

Oregon State beating USC and chasing its first Rose Bowl in 44 years.

Coaches in waiting.

Coaches waiting in line ("resigning" in the middle of a season).

The end of a Bowden (Tommy).

The continuation of a Bowden (Bobby).

The longing of a Bowden (Terry, to get back in the game).

Joe's hip.

Charlie's knee.

Nate Davis' gloves.

Jay Jacobs' "shock" over Tommy Tuberville's "resignation."

Tennessee goes from old school to youngest coach in the country.

The (sad) state of Washington. (Combined records of the Huskies and Cougars, 2-22).

Big 12 quarterbacks.

Big 12 offenses.

Big 12 top 10 games each week.

The Big 12 surpassing the SEC, if only for a moment, as the best conference in the country.

The tie in the Big 12 South.

The cry that followed.

Politcking.

Text messages.

The high road.

Running it up.

Calling off the dogs. 

Flyovers.

"To me that's a little ridiculous," Bradford said.

That's a good way to end it, for now.

 

 

Posted on: December 8, 2008 7:38 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 11:22 am
 

Random thoughts on a football Monday

Colt McCoy is the Heisman leader in the prestigious Rocky Mountain News poll. Yours truly voted in it this season.

 Nagurski Award (best defensive player) went to a Big 12 player? Texas' Brian Orakpo was sixth in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. Okaaay ....

 

CBSSports.com's All-America team (including our defensive player of the year) will be released on Friday.


 Once again, one person didn't vote in the Harris poll. That made it three times this season someone was missing from the 114-person panel.


 Eighteen coaches voted for their own school in the coaches poll. The individual ballots were released  Monday in USA Today. There were some interesting results.

--Oregon's Mike Bellotti voted for Cal (No. 25) but Cal coach Mike Tedford did not.

--North Carolina finished with six points in the coaches poll. Two of them came from coach Butch Davis who voted the Tar Heels No. 24.

--Mike Leach voted Oklahoma No. 1, Texas Tech No. 2 and Texas No. 5. No. 5? That at least equaled the lowest ranking of the Longhorns among the 61 voters.

--Nebraska got all of five points in the poll. Four of them came from coach Bo Pelini who slotted his Huskers No. 21.

--Most overrated team by a coach: Missouri. Gary Pinkel had his Tigers at No. 18. They barely stayed in both polls.

--Three five-loss teams finished with votes -- Kansas, Rutgers and Buffalo.

 Here are the combined top five of the seven Big 12 coaches who voted in the coaches poll. This is an issue, of course, because Texas finished .01816 of a point out of the BCS title game.

 

1. Oklahoma (five first-place votes)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (1)
4. Alabama
5. USC

The seven are: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Only Chizik and Mack Brown had Texas ahead of Oklahoma on their ballots. Briles, Hawkins, Leach, Pinkel and Pelini voted Oklahoma No. 1.

Four coaches voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll. Amazingly, one of them wasn't Mack Brown: Chizik, Todd Dodge, North Texas; Rick Neuhiesel, UCLA; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso.

Chizik worked for Brown. Dodge played at Texas. Price played Texas this year was grateful for the Horns coming and filling his stadium. Neuheisel is the head scratcher but a lot of stuff The Rickster does causes us to scratch our heads.

 How my BIG playoff would have looked in 2006 and 2007:

 


2007

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 West Virginia
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 5 Missouri
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Kansas
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 USC

2006

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Auburn
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Boise State

 The old lady next to us offered us a drink, she was guzzling gin out of a thermos. That much I remember from the last time the Cardinals won a division. Back in 1975 they were the St. Louis Cardinals and I was just out of high school.

 

Friend Jack Scanlan and I somehow scored tickets in the bleachers at old Busch Stadium to what was then the biggest football game in The Loo's history.  On a cold, cold day, Jackie Smith caught a touchdown pass and the Cardinals of Jim Hart, Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray beat the Giants 14-6.

It was a bigger deal then than it was today in Arizona. The Cardinals migrated from Chicago in 1960 and spent 27 mostly-frustrating seasons in my hometown. I still follow the Cards enough to know that the Bidwells are still the Bidwells.  Cheap and clueless.

Good on ya to Arizona, though. The city deserves a team to fit that magnificent stadium.

And, no, take the old lady up on her offer. I was only 18, besides I'm a vodka man.

Posted on: November 19, 2008 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2008 1:16 pm
 

National notes

The golden era of Buffalo football was 50 years ago. That's what makes this week so special.

Beat Bowling Green on Friday and the Bulls clinch the MAC East and play for the MAC title, which would guarantee them their first bowl game. They are led by an African-American coach (Turner Gill) and an African-American athletic director (Warde Manuel).

 Fifty years ago, the Bulls had an invite to play in their first bowl game, the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. One stipulation: The game was being in a stadium controlled by a local school district that didn't allow integrated games.

There wasn't even a vote. The Bulls refused the invitation standing solidly behind their black teammates -- Willie Evans and Mike Wilson.

"They insulted two of our teammates," former quarterback Joe Oliverio told the Associated Press, "and we were going to hit them back between the ears by refusing to go without our teammates."

Fifty years later, Syracuse has a wonderful opportunity to carry on that legacy. Not necessarily because Gill is an African-American but, yes, that is part of it. Much higher on the list is the chance to turn around a moribund program. Gill has done what few thought was impossible, transforming a fledgling I-A program into being competitive.

That's all Buffalo was asking when it hired him three years ago. But this is above and beyond. The Bulls (6-4) already are bowl eligible. A victory Friday puts them in that first MAC title game.

A year ago Gill was mentioned in the Nebraska coaching search if for no other reason than to appease the Big Red masses. The former Nebraska option quarterback ran one of the highest scoring offenses in the game's history. In becoming a 1983 Heisman Trophy finalist, Gill guided Nebraska to within a missed two-point conversion of the national championship.

That was a quarter-century ago. Fast forward to 2007 and a change of career paths. Gill wasn't ready for Nebraska and not with a 7-17 career record.

But Gill is perfect, now -- right now! -- for Syracuse. The program that desperately needs to hit a home run with its next hire has one sitting right down the interstate. Gill is young, enough (46) and energetic enough to undertake the massive rebuilding job it's going to take to resurrect the program.

Think about this: Syracuse probably is in no position to be grabbing big-name coaches. It desperately needs one who is hungry. What Gill has done at Buffalo in only three seasons is one of the most underrated stories this season.

Of course, it didn't become a big story until the Bulls beat Akron in overtime on Saturday. That meant bowl eligibility and a chance at the conference title.
I just amazed myself typing those words.

Getting Buffalo to win anything is like transforming elephant into an Olympic sprinter. It has been in I-A only nine years. 
Gill's career record is a modest 13-21 but consider where Buffalo had been before this point. The program has consecutive five-win seasons for the first time since 1981. The program was 10-69 in seven previous seasons before moving to Division I-A in 1999.

"How come it can't happen?" Gill said. "That's what I told this football team when I first came in here. I said to them, 'We will be successful here and I will not be ashamed of being the head football coach at the University at Buffalo.'"

Far from it. Oh, and Gill can recruit.

 Senior quarterback Drew Willy drew interest from Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn but those schools weren't exactly knocking down his door. Syracuse got rid of Paul Pasqualoni which soured Willy on the Orange. Gill them proved himself as a quarterback maker. Willy has thrown 45 career touchdowns and is currently third in MAC passing.

 

 Kicker A.J. Principe was a player no one wanted out of Columbus, Ohio. Gill gave him a chance to walk on. The sophomore has 25 career field goals making 73 percent of his kicks. And a scholarship.

 

 Receiver Naaman Roosevelt was the New York state co-player. His only offer was from I-AA New Hampshire. Now he leads the MAC in receiving yards.

 

A couple of years ago, Buffalo played Bowling Green in a game that lasted more than five hours because of lightning delays. When the teams meet Friday, it could mark the fastest three hours in Buffalo football history. Win, and the Bulls are in.

 

 mgoblog.com is reporting that Michigan tailback Sam McGuffie is transferring.

 

 

 More from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on Obama's playoff talk:

 

"Look at our league, you talk about turning up the pressure. In our league those that have annual expectations -- Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas.  Let's say one of them isn't in (a playoff) for three or four years, their coaches aren't going to make it, the season ticket sales may go down, the bowls aren't going to be satisfied if they're not in it. An eight-team playoff is not going to accommodate more than two teams from a conference. You're going to put the pressure on."

 

 Part of the Mountain West's success includes complete domination of the Pac-10 and the best record of any conference against BCS conference teams (9-5). The conference is so good, though, that it me shopping for a bowl.

 

It is contracted to four bowls but the nine-team league could have six bowl eligible teams if Colorado State and UNLV (both 5-6) win this week.

Utah could relieve some of the pressure by beating BYU. That would push the Utes up to a BCS bowl. However, if BYU wins that could mean four bowl spots for six teams.

 

 By the way look for Utah's Kyle Whittingham to get a contract extension after the season He is in the fourth year of a six-year deal.

 

 

 It's interesting to look back at the first Power Poll on August 31. Here's the top 10 from back then. Five of the 
10 are still in the mix.

 

1. Ohio State -- Beat Michigan and it shares the Big Ten title.
2. Oklahoma -- The Texas loss probably keeps OU from being No. 1 at this point.
3. USC -- Ever hear of Jacquizz Rodgers?
4. Missouri -- Another victim of the Big 12 South.
5. Georgia -- Wasn't Knowshon Moreno supposed to be a Heisman candidate?
6. Florida -- Forget Tebow, Brandon Spikes for Heisman.
7. LSU -- Jarrett Lee has legally changed his name to "Pick Six".
8. West Virginia -- You're kidding, right?
9. Texas -- One loss, on the road, on the last offensive play of the game to No. 2 Texas Tech.
10. Auburn -- Wheeze, cough, cough. Don't wait for me to catch up. Go on ahead. The wolves will end my misery.

 Question: The day Will Muschamp becomes Texas head coach, will he be one of the few head coaches who calls his own defensive plays? I can only think of two at the moment, TCU's Gary Patterson and Western Kentucky's Dave Elson.

 

Posted on: November 16, 2008 9:09 pm
 

A dysfunctional end at Syracuse and a candidate

A week after Syracuse officially dropped from bowl contention, 24 hours after senior day, now -- now  -- they decide to fire Greg Robinson.

Like everything else about the Robinson era, this made no sense. AD Daryl Gross explained the firing as if Robinson had been some sort of serial killer.

"We just thought at this point the community could relax," he said.

Huh?

What exactly does Gross gain by firing Robinson now, especially since the coach will stay for the final two games of the season? Something must have gotten into ADs' coffee this year. Robinson became the sixth coach to be fired/resign during the season.  

Gross does have his first official candidate. Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley told me Sunday night, in a roundabout way, that he would be interested.

"Obviously being a head coach is an ultimate goal of mine," Locksley said, "whether it's a BCS or non-BCS school. I'm not in a hurry."

Locksley said he had not been contacted, although his name has circulated as a possible candidate for a while. The 48-year-old is in his fourth season under Ron Zook. Before that he was with Zook at Florida making a reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters. Locksley is responsible for opening up the Washington D.C. area to Illinois. They snatched current stars defensive back Vontae Davis and receiver Arrelious Benn from the area.

Illinois signed Locksley to an extension that runs through the 2012 season after West Virginia inquired about interviewing late last year. The coach makes approximately $500,000 per season, making him one of the highest paid coordinators in the country.

Syracuse already has employed headhunter Chuck Neinas. Former Raiders and USC coach Lane Kiffin is known to be interested and has ties to Gross, a former USC associate AD. The name of New Orleans offensive coordinator Doug Marrone has surfaced as well. Marrone played at Syracuse from 1983-85. He currently oversees the NFL's No. 1 offense. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 2, 2008 2:28 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has the Ol' Ball Coach back.

Younger, certainly, and less chatty. Plus, Urban Meyer doesn't have quite the swashbuckling nature of Steve Spurrier.

But he isn't far off.

Meyer no doubt hacked off Georgia -- and maybe some football purists -- with his little stage production at the end of Saturday's 49-10 victory over Georgia.

The coach called two inexplicable -- and indefensible -- timeouts in the final minute. Florida's second-team offense had the ball to run out the clock, or so we thought. At no time did backup quarterback Jeff Brantley take a knee.

Instead, Meyer called his team over to the sideline with both 44 and 31 seconds remaining.

"I wasn't paying attention to the first timeout," Florida safety Will Hill told the <em>New York Daily News</em>. "The second timeout, I'm thinking, 'That Urb is a funny guy.'"

Meyer had promised in his book "Urban's Way" that there would be retribution for Georgia's bum rushing of the field last season in the Cocktail Party. Up until that point, the teams had played it mostly straight.

The timeouts, though, were clearly calculated meant to drag out the agony for Georgia.

"(Tailback Emmanuel) Moody was running the ball real hard and I wanted to get him a couple of carries," Meyer said innocently. "Just trying to win a game."

Yeah, right. And Napoleon was trying to get his point across during this skirmishes in Europe.

Meyer gave himself away Saturday with a brief smile in the interview room. Other that, it was poker face all the way. That's the difference between him and Spurrier. The OBC always had a smirk or a wink.

Meyer has a can full of revengeful whup --- and he isn't afraid to use it.

The coach didn't endear himself to Miami fans earlier this season when he called for a late field goal in a 26-3 victory over the Hurricanes.

Miami coach Randy Shannon officially has a grudge leftover from that one. He was quoted last week as saying, "Something is going to happen," in the Florida-Georgia game. That almost put pressure on Meyer to do <em>something</em>.

"Watch that game. Don't watch ours," Shannon said. "I'm serious."

Florida got a winner when it hired Meyer four years ago. It didn't know it was getting a reasonable facsimile of Spurrier.

Meyer, though, is a bit more stealthy and charmless than the legend. This season he has put his foot on the throat of a couple rivals and pressed down. Are things even with Georgia now or do the Bulldogs retaliate at some future date? Miami won't have a chance for a few more years. The series doesn't continue until the next decade.

"You always respect the game of football," Meyer said.

Did Meyer respect it Saturday night? There is plenty of time to find out. They say what goes around comes around.  Meyer is still a young man in his 40s.

 Michigan's 33-year bowl streak is over after losing to Purdue 48-42.

 

Boilermakers' coach Joe Tiller what-the-helled-it calling for a hook-and-ladder in final minute. Purdue scored the winner with 26 seconds left.

Things are much more bleak than the last time Michigan didn't go to a bowl. That was 1974 and the Wolverines finished 10-1. Those were the days when only the Big Ten winner was allowed to go bowling, in the Rose Bowl.

 What's Tim Brewster doing throwing from deep in his own territory?

 

The Minnesota coach's decision to do just that might have cost his team a Jan. 1 bowl. Adam Weber's pass was intercepted near midfield and run in for a touchdown in Northwestern's 24-17 victory.

 Some things never change. West Virginia gave the Big East some hope with a 35-13 victory over UConn. The Mountaineers are the only team undefeated in conference play (6-2, 3-0) and have won five in a row.

 

 Just when you thought there was some sense to be made out of the ACC ... Division-leading Virginia lost to Miami in overtime. Florida State fumbled into the end zone allowing Georgia Tech to escape. Even Clemson won, beating Boston College at home.

 

The team with the ACC's best conference record, Maryland, didn't play. The Terps (6-2, 3-1) lead the Atlantic Division and are at Virginia Tech on Thursday. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2) has a half-game lead in the Coastal.

 It didn't just seem that every big game was close, it was the truth. Nine teams in the AP top 25 were involved in games decided by 10 points or less.

 

 Oklahoma State is 8-1 for only the third time in its history over beating Iowa State 59-17. Does anyone else think the Cowboys just might be the best in the Big 12? They will get a chance to prove it going to Texas Tech this week.

 

 For the record, it was warmer in Overland Park, Kan. this weekend than it was in Jacksonville, Fla. for the Cocktail Party. First Coast, my backside. Driving through downtown to get to the stadium, I had to negotiate a bum rush of a different kind. The city can get a Super Bowl but apparently it can't take care of its indigent.

It still boggles the mind that this city has an NFL franchise and has hosted at least one NCAA Tournament first-rounder. It is not major league.

Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


Posted on: September 19, 2008 3:33 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2008 3:52 pm
 

Reacting to West Virginia-Colorado

How do you like things now, West Virginia?

You got your money ($4 million from Rich Rod) and you got your loyal coach. I'll repeat: How do you like things now?

Three games into the Bill Stewart administration; you're three losses away from the total ol' Rich lost (five) in his last 37 at Morgantown. The West  Virginia message boards were a hoot on Friday. I purposefully waited until now to file this blog in order to properly absorb Thursday's loss at Colorado.

 
Conclusion: There's something missing. It's more than Owen Schmitt, the blocking back Stewart could have used against Colorado's stubborn defense. It's more than those timeouts that Stewart kept in his holster in the final minute. It's the mojo, the utter confidence the Mountaineers used to have under Rodriguez.  At the end, they felt like they could walk into any stadium in the country and win.

Now they are the Grateful Dead after Jerry Garcia died. Soldiering on but just not the same. I don't blame Stewart so much. He is such a nice guy and so  authentic. All he did was accept a "Who, me?" promotion after the Fiesta Bowl. His enthusiasm rubs off on everyone.

I blame the West Virginia administration. This is what they wanted, twice. The guy signed his contract a week ago. Now the typical poster to terrybowden.com wants him canned.

"I had a brief moment of hope back in December that you might become our coach," one post to Bowden read, "Now all of the WVU fans are living a nightmare. Wish we could go back in time ..."

The offense has been tweaked just enough so that Patrick White has been shackled. Forty-three yards passing doesn't get it. Yeah, I know White had two  touchdown runs Thursday night. But the NCAA's all-time No. 2 quarterback rushing leader carried twice after his second touchdown run with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Twice.

Check out this column from the Charleston Daily Mail, which portrays the mood after the game.

This is going to make for a strange West Virginia season. A team playing for championships might be playing for a low-level bowl in late November.

"It feels like the worst thing in the world right now," said defensive back Quinton Andrews.

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com